Kelley scores 3 times, Tarleton defense shuts Southwest Baptist down in Texan win

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STEPHENVILLE — If football fans followed similar traditions as hockey fans, Tarleton’s administration would still be sweeping hats off of the turf. Derrel Kelley III scored a “hat trick” for the Texans, rushing for three touchdowns in the Texans’ 24-10 win over Southwest Baptist at Memorial Stadium.

Tarleton (5-2, 1-1 WAC) won its fifth straight home game and eighth of the last nine played in Stephenville, improving to 2-1 in the all-time series against the Bearcats. Southwest Baptist (3-5, 1-2 GLVC) dropped its second straight game.

Kelley scored a career-high three touchdowns on what was otherwise a defensive battle between the two teams, Tarleton’s first game played in Stephenville since Sept. 17. Both teams scored touchdowns on their opening drives and not much after that, with Tarleton shutting down SBU for six straight drives before allowing just a field goal in the fourth quarter. Kelley scored a TD in each of the first, third and fourth quarters, with Adrian Guzman providing the Texans the other points in the second quarter on a 30-yard field goal.

Kelley finished with 117 yards rushing on 18 carries (6.5 yards per carry) and three touchdowns, adding 10 receiving yards on three catches. He tripled his touchdown output on the season, now with four in consecutive weeks, for his most rushing touchdowns in a season overall, now in his third year. His 117-yard game is his second 100+ rushing yard performance of the season (and his career). He made his third straight start, entering the night with the 21st best yards-per-carry average in the FCS at 6.19, improving that mark to 6.26. Kelley provided the first 3+ rushing touchdown performance for the Texans since Daniel McCants had four at Texas A&M-Kingsville on Oct. 26, 2019.

Besides Tarleton’s lead back, the defenses feasted Saturday on both sides. Tarleton allowed 288 total yards, just 62 total on the ground, forcing SBU to just 1.8 yards per rush. The Texans picked off SBU QB Cooper Callis twice, Jaylen Jackson taking the first, and Tayvis Coleman getting the second. Segun Ijiyera practically lived in the backfield with two sacks and three tackles for loss total, finishing with seven tackles on the night. Tarleton had four sacks, with Donovan Banks earning one, and Coleman plus Prince Umanmielen combining for the other. Patrick Jones led the purple and white with 10 total tackles.

For SBU, they allowed just 84 Tarleton passing yards, the Texans’ lowest total in seven years. Tarleton had 291 total yards, but zero turnovers certainly helped their cause. Another non-offensive bright spot for Tarleton was punter Jake Walrath, who had three of his five punts put Southwest Baptist inside the 20-yard-line, twice pinning them inside their own 10.

Tarleton started the game with a seven-and-a-half-minute, 14-play, 74-yard drive to go up 7-0. Kelley capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run. SBU responded with an over five-minute, 10-play, 75-yard drive to tie the game at 7-7 on an Abel Carter 7-yard touchdown run.

In the middle of the second quarter with the score still tied 7-7, the Texans stood tall on defense, blocking the Bearcats on 4th and 1 for a turnover on downs. Guzman made a 30-yard FG as the first half clock expired to put Tarleton ahead 10-7 at the break.

After a quick stop by the Texans, they scored on their first third quarter drive to go up 17-7 on the heels of Kelley’s 4-yard TD rush.

In the fourth quarter, Coleman put the Texans at the SBU 10-yard line with his interception, and Kelley ran it into the endzone on the first play to seal the deal for Tarleton.

Tarleton now turns their attention to homecoming. The Texans will host their homecoming game on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. CT against the recent FCS national champion Sam Houston Bearkats. The Texans are hoping to deal a “Full House” with sights set on hosting over 20,000 fans at the game. It will mark the first time Tarleton opens the new north endzone bleachers since the stadium expansion project completed.

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